“A homeless woman who has no future and not even a high school education?” I said sadly.
“Don’t say that,” he said angrily. “I’d get the bravest, most beautiful, intelligent, and talented woman I’ve ever met. Don’t put yourself down because of your circumstances, Ruby. That’s not who you are. Being homeless wasn’t your fault. If anything, I admire your courage. You’ve kept fighting because nobody was there for you. But I’m here now. And I’m not going anywhere.”
It was at that exact moment that I realized that I was totally, completely, and irrevocably in love with Jett Lawson. Maybe I’d already been falling for him, but I wasn’t falling anymore. I’d landed with a thud, and gotten slammed over the head with the knowledge that he’d always be the man I wanted.
And the thought terrified me.
“Whatever is going through that beautiful head of yours right now, get rid of it. You look scared,” Jett grumbled.
“I am,” I confessed. “I want to say yes more than I’ve ever wanted anything, but you’re way out of my league.”
“Yeah, well, I think you’re way out of mine, too. But I’m still asking.”
“Is the relationship going to be real?” I asked, still not understanding why he actually wanted me. I was already more than willing to have sex with him.
“As real as it gets,” he answered firmly. “Say yes, Ruby. What do we have to lose?”
My heart. I could lose my heart.
I took a deep breath and remembered what I’d learned so far in therapy.
My reality isn’t what other people think or see. It’s distorted because of my background.
While I was struggling not to see myself as a complete loser who didn’t deserve anything good to happen to her, Jett obviously saw me way differently.
And God, I wanted to be the woman he wanted to see every single day.
Happiness was within my grasp. All I had to do was reach out and grab it.
Problem was, I didn’t want to lose it again. I’d be devastated.
He’s worth it.
I sighed as I looked at the face of the man who had changed my life.
I might be afraid, but if I didn’t try to make our relationship real, I knew I’d always regret it.
“Yes,” I finally said in a mesmerized tone.
“You won’t be sorry,” Jett said fiercely. “I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you never wish you hadn’t taken me on. And I’ll be happy that you can’t argue about me giving you the things you need.”
“I don’t think that was part of the deal,” I said hurriedly.
He gently pushed a stray lock of hair from my face as he answered, “Ruby, if you’re mine, you share my life. It’s going to be give-and-take. It’s not in me to have a woman and not give her everything I can to make her life easier.”
I sighed. “I know,” I conceded. “But it’s not really fair because I don’t have a lot to give except myself. Not right now.”
Eventually, I’d have my inheritance, but I didn’t have a penny of my own yet.
“That’s all I want,” he answered. “I think in a good relationship, things go back and forth. I can guarantee that there are going to be times when I’ll need you more than you need me in the future, and you’ll have your chance to be there for me. But right now, let’s just get this new life moving.”
It was hard for me to imagine a time when Jett wasn’t the strong one in our relationship, but I was going to do everything I could to make his words a reality. I was going to fight for my success, and give back all that he had given me emotionally.
I gave him a small smile. “I think I’m ready.”
He grinned. “I know I am,” he declared right before he sealed the deal with a toe-curling kiss that wiped all negative thoughts from my brain for the rest of the night.
“Oh, my God, Ruby. These are incredible,” my new friend, Lia, claimed as she took a bite of my pastry.
The last week had been the happiest and most exciting of my life. After a few days of study and tutoring from Pete, I’d taken my driver’s test and passed, so I now had a valid driver’s license.